Let's get to know each other - what is meditation?
The history of meditation dates back thousands of years, and over that time many views and definitions have been formed about it. For some, meditation is a spiritual experience, for others a mental workout. But what is it really?
It's safe to say that meditation can be a unique tool for each of us to achieve specific and predetermined goals. But let's not attribute any supernatural qualities to it, because it is only up to ourselves how and whether meditation can help us at all. The practice of meditation is meant to teach us to be in the here and now, not to look into the future or go back to what happened in the past. Meditation is a method of getting to know oneself - discovering one's own ME step by step. It is a way to deeply trace the patterns of our behavior and understand why we act the way we do and not differently. All this is done in order to achieve a state of full acceptance of ourselves, as well as of what surrounds us - including other people. So can we conclude that meditation makes us better people? Undoubtedly yes.
Meditation can also be described as a mental workout that produces concrete results, much like exercising the whole body. However, in order to start seeing results, practice must be systematic. After all, the benefits never appear on their own, they have to be worked on - just as with learning any new skill. This mental training can be full of ups and downs. It won't always go smoothly or our way. But everything is give and take - to understand and appreciate.
Meditation is for you - what can it give?
Meditation is worth looking at more broadly - not just in terms of the benefits it can bring. Although it's also hard to completely sideline them, since they are the ones that most motivate you to take action. What specific results will meditation help you achieve?
- reducing stress levels and lowering feelings of anxiety
- improve your mood and concentration
- perseverance and consistency of purpose
- learning to let go
- achieving inner peace
You have to understand that meditation is not about getting to a certain point or reaching a specific goal. Because "meditation is not a means to an end. Meditation is both a means and an end." - as Jiddu Krishnamurti said. Following this line - every meditative practice is a fragment of a path that brings us closer to knowing ourselves better. And that is worth focusing on.
How to start meditating?
What if you could just sit back and focus fully on yourself and your own thoughts? Don't think about what to prepare for dinner tomorrow or who will drive your child to extra classes. The first step should always be an action, not excessive thinking. Because only action allows us to experience new things. So you don't overthink the how and why. You just sit down - where you like, where you will be comfortable and take a moment to try it. Test, learn, and then change and modify as needed.
Short or long?
To start, you only need a few minutes to dedicate to meditation every day. This short time will help you avoid discouragement and accept no excuses. And through small steps you will succeed in building an effective habit. After all, it is said that practise makes perfect, meaning that it is not the length that matters, but more the regularity and dedication to what you are doing.
Morning or evening?
It depends - on your availability or preference. However, we can probably attribute more advantages to morning meditation, because the beginning of the day is a time when we are not yet saturated with the events of daily life. And we don't look for excuses, making excuses for being tired. A morning meditation, even if it is only to last 5 minutes, can put us in a positive mood for the day. The evening one, on the other hand, can help you relax after a hard day. Also, choose the one you currently need.
Right or wrong?
The meditation does not come with an instruction manual to follow. You also don't have to tick off successive points that will move you to the next level of "initiation". You do it your way - not like the pictures or videos. You act according to your intuition and you can be sure that it will be fine.
Why should you try and start meditating?
Meditation appears in our lives and brings its own order. Thanks to it, we begin to pay attention to things previously invisible to us. We begin to appreciate simple gestures and small things. We accept our life as it is here and now. And our mind opens up to new possibilities.
Meditation is working with the breath - an aspect of life we rarely think about. Without breath, we could not survive, and we practically do not work on its quality. Practicing meditation allows you to focus on it more and more. Calm, quality breathing oxygenates our entire body, calms us down, relaxes the body, and recharges us with good energy. Meditation teaches us to take care of our body and soul. It makes us judge less and definitely appreciate more. We can treat it a bit like the daily care of our body to which we pay so much attention. But meditation will be such grooming of our mind. And it won't require expensive cosmetics from us at all, rather a moment of time and a little trust.
Why else should you trust meditation? Scientifically, this practice can positively affect blood pressure, improve sleep quality, reduce stress hormone levels or enhance memory and concentration. Long-term, it can even help slow down the aging process.
How to meditate? - specific tips
You start by finding a cozy and pleasant place where you can settle for a while with your meditation practice. You don't have to immediately rearrange your entire apartment just to create a meditation corner. Because meditation isn't at all demanding and there are many choices. Then focus your attention on the position - you can meditate sitting, but also lying down. Actually, any position you take will be fine, as long as it makes your body comfortable and relaxed and allows you to breathe freely. Although meditation in a lying down position can often end up simply by falling asleep, which is why it is less recommended. Importantly - no part of the body should be tense - this at the very beginning of the practice can solve most problems. Any additional tension in the body (for example, in the abdominal muscles) can prove to be an obstacle that stands in the way of effective meditation. For beginners, a common obstacle turns out to be the hands, or rather - what to do with them? When lying down, they can be placed along the body, while when sitting down - freely on the knees. And preferably with the underside of the hands up, that is, in an open position.
Do you associate meditation with the traditional lotus flower position and that's where you want to practice? Try it! Sit with your legs crossed, rest your hands on your knees, open them and point them towards the ceiling (or sky ;)). Straighten your back - this is really important, because a straight back will pull your shoulder blades back, and this will give your body better airflow.
Next, focus on your own breathing. As you inhale, you can imagine that the air is oxygenating every part of your body, and as you exhale, you remove negative emotions and stress from yourself.
For meditation to be effective, your body should not be too tired and your mind should not be distracted. Therefore, the best time to meditate is in the morning. Meditation practice should always take place with your phone on mute, wearing comfortable clothes and never with a full (or empty!) belly.
Don't think about how to start, just start. Don't expect to feel lighter or healthier after the first attempt. Avoid unrealistic notions - one meditation will not change your life or suddenly make you a completely different person. If you get rid of any expectations, your meditation practice will be much easier and, in the long run, also more effective.
Show me how to meditate - learning to meditate with a teacher
Body training is only with a personal trainer, but mind training? With a teacher, spiritual guide, instructor - it doesn't matter what we call him. The important thing is that he can help us - especially at the beginning of our adventure with meditation. Meditating on our own is a foreign state and unfamiliar territory for us. Some people enjoy such challenges and learn new things with ease, but there are also those who find it difficult. It's good to know that you can benefit from the knowledge of someone more experienced in the subject of meditation to understand and learn certain patterns. Whether online or in real life, in a group or individually, this will always bring some benefit.
Problems in meditation
We do our own thing, and our mind it’s own - it is often the case that, despite strenuous attempts, it is difficult to discipline and direct our mind into the "right tracks". At the least opportune moment, it provides us with unrealistic notions and arranges a real race of thoughts. This is especially true for beginners who are just learning to control it. It's not a bad thing, after all, the mind is used to doing just that. We don't give it a chance and time to rest, we are in a constant phase of creating, inventing, practicing, and it is meditation that should help us stop. Working with the mind is also a lesson in patience - not everything will work out right away, it won't always go our way. But meditation is there to teach our mind and body to let go. In time, you will be able to control the thoughts that arise during meditation - you will not react to them, but let them go and let them fly away. You will realize that chasing them away is just a waste of energy. And when they do come up, try to focus all your attention on your breath, including the fact that you can start counting your breaths. This will help shift your attention to a completely different track.
Impatience - such a human destroyer of many activities - may also stand in your way. Accept it, but at the same time try to overcome it. Treat it as a challenge that brings you closer to achieving your goal, not as an enemy to be defeated. Every emotion that accompanies you is, after all, a part of you. It is possible that discouragement due to fatigue and weariness will also appear in the meantime. It will be another obstacle in the way of achieving the set goal. Will you give in to it? That depends entirely on you. A few days of rest are not a bad thing, but the question - are you and your practice ready for them enough to then calmly return to the previously established patterns?
Meditation practices – types
Meditation can be tailored to suit oneself - one's own needs, desires or lifestyle. Among meditation practices we can distinguish mindfulness meditation, which focuses all attention on the thoughts and emotions accompanying us in the moment, but without judging them. It is simply observing the state we are currently in. It is not practiced to change, but rather to build self-awareness. Meditation with visualization, on the other hand, allows us to focus our attention on certain of our imaginations. Transcendental meditation will work well for people who like specific principles and structured practices. Meditation in motion will combine physical activity with a focus on the accompanying sensations. And kindness meditation is a technique for repeating phrases full of goodness and love directed to oneself or others. It allows one to bring more kindness into one's life and direct one's mind to improve self-love and cultivate empathy.
Effects of meditation
It isn't worth focusing on them at the very beginning, because such an attitude may cause us to miss what is important. Effects will come - that's for sure, but sometimes they will be so subtle that we may overlook them. It's worth remembering that every result takes time and work, and the important thing is the process of achievement itself, not necessarily the achievement.
Small and large rituals
Our lives consist of smaller and larger rituals. For some it will be a morning trip to the bakery, for others it will be an evening bath with essential oils. Regardless of what is a pleasure for ourselves, it is worth ensuring that there are as many of them as possible in our lives. The smaller ones, like 5 minutes spent alone with a mug of your favorite coffee. Or the bigger ones, like systematic trips in a group of women to a spa. Meditation should also be such a ritual - bringing joy and permanently woven into our calendar. The state of relaxation achieved after practicing meditation can be maintained, and a cup of delicious Magic Cocoa from Zojo can help. Especially now, when autumn is coming! Both mornings and evenings are chilly, and this unique drink can warm up the body quite nicely - after remaining motionless during meditation. At the same time, it will help soothe the senses and calm the mind or maintain that state achieved after meditation practice. It contains active ingredients loved practically by the meditation or yoga lover, including Ashwagandha, which promotes physical and mental relaxation. And as needed, it adds strength, vitality and enthusiasm. With such a dose of positive energy you can start (or end) any day. Anyway - see for yourself J